This was taken from an evening workshop in 2007 called, “Choices: What do do When Your Mind Wants to Ask Directions.”
States of mind, physiology, of emotion, all of which influence one another, refer to how we “are”, how we “feel”, in a given moment. We often speak of a “resourceful state” or a “less-resourceful state”, which offers an indication of how we use these terms. The state refers to what mental/emotional resources we have available to us at that moment. As you can imagine, this greatly affects the range of available behaviors. Bear in mind that this is not a hard-and-fast rule: On the contrary, we work to extend our flexibility so that, regardless of what state in which we find ourselves, we have access to behaviors we might not associate with that state. For example, a state of anger or impatience might normally not lend itself well to finding patience or compassion. However, we want to be able to easily access such resources, even where someone, even ourselves, might not expect us to. Our behavioral flexibility is as rich as our understanding of our subjective experience. For instance, choosing a very limited number of states necessarily restricts our experience and therefore our choice. Someone for whom their experience is either “good” or “bad” offers very limited ranges of experience.
Beyond behavioral flexibility, we want the ability to change our state at will. Until people learn that this is not only possible, but as easy as making any other decision, they often feel that they are helpless, powerless to their emotions and emotional “state.”
One of the ways to understand our most familiar states is to review the day before and consider, in each situation, what term or feeling would we use to describe that state. For instance, you might consider waking up and being in a “relaxed” state. After snoozing the alarm, you may have found yourself in an “anxious” state. Then, doing your morning routine, showering, shaving, dressing, having breakfast, you might have discovered you were in an “enthusiastic” state. Or if you hadn’t prepared for your work day and you may be clamoring to “hit the ground running”, you may again experience an “anxious” state. Driving to work, you might hit traffic and find yourself in an “angry” or “frustrated” state, and so on…
By the end of the day, you will see patterns to your states. Some may only have arisen once or twice, others might recur throughout the day. As you do this for multiple days, you will quickly see which states are more familiar, more common for you, and you may be surprised to notice that you can become so patterned, even anchored to certain states by your environment and habit, that a handful of states may largely define your life. If those states support your goals, your enjoyment of life, we might say that this is functional and leave it alone—although we may wish to fine-tune it. But if those states detract from your goals, and your life’s satisfaction, you may be ready to make a change.
How? We can shift our states, access new ones based upon our preferences, in a number of ways. Some things change our states automatically—such as a new stimulus. Think of being in a calm, relaxed state when a gunshot is fired just outside your window. This should, if you’re paying attention to what that shot could mean, change your state instantly! As would someone handing you a briefcase full of money. Regardless of what that means, it’s the kind of event that instantly would grab our attention and shift our state. Likewise, we an consume things that will change our state, like food or alcohol, or other drugs. But even something conscious like meditation and shifting our breathing pattern will change our state. We have a great deal of avenues, and those so far have little to do with NLP. Using NLP as our tool kit, we can introduce a break state, or an interruption that distracts us or moves us to a neutral or at least different sate. We can also recall a time, fully associated, where we had a different state. Similarly, we can imagine being in that desired state right then.
We can even use techniques like the “As-If” frame to create the state. As our physiology and mindset take on a different state, “as if” we already had it, the state will follow. We can similarly shift our physiology alone to create that state—by mimicking the physiology we use in that state. This demonstrates one of the core NLP Presuppositions regarding the mind and body influencing one another.
There are many others, though we are going to use only a couple for our demonstration. Who is aware of a number of states you routinely experience? And hopefully have a preference between them? Great, why don’t you come here, Mario, so everyone can observe? Thanks.
Now, everyone please watch very closely—remember that sensory acuity—as we’ll follow this with an exercise in which you’ll do the same thing. Okay, I want everyone here to think of a state in which you frequently find yourselves. It might be “tranquility”, “frustration”, “guilt”, anything. But for this to make more sense, let’s choose an emotional state you don’t like. So “challenged,” “anxious,” “pained,” “confused,” anything that’s a common state for you and you’d prefer to experience it less. Okay, reviewing the various methods of shifting from one state to another, or accessing a preferred state, watch and determine which method I’m using. Notice on the white board the various techniques we can use to accomplish this, and I’ll use at least one. Then consider how you might have used other methods instead. There’s no wrong way as long as it achieves your outcome. Great. Let’s demonstrate…
“Mario,” I said, “what’s your state? What do you experience often that you’d rather not?”
Mario responds: “I’m in Sales. I often experience fear of rejection from customers.”
“Great, and when you—wait a minute, do you sell a good product? Would YOU buy it?”
Mario says, “Um, yeah, it’s great, and yes, I have several at home. I swear by them.”
Nice, so you believe in it. Good. Now I want you to check in with yourself. What might a more desirable state be for you? What would you prefer to feel instead of fear of rejection? I’m assuming that this feeling is before you’ve had the “closing” discussion?
(Volunteer: “Yes, definitely. If they already said ‘yes’, fear of rejection wouldn’t make sense. But if they said ‘no’, I’d no longer FEAR rejection, I’d just be feeling bad about the ACTUAL rejection. So I’d prefer to experience a state of caring an enthusiasm.”)
Do you ever experience that state you just described? Is it real for you already and you just need to return to it? Or is it a new state that you want to generate?
(Volunteer: “Oh, I’ve often felt it. When a customer has sought me out, basically sold themselves on it, I feel that often.”)
Good, now how do you stand—or sit—when you are in this desired state? How do you hold yourself? How do you breathe? Show us, please.”
(Volunteer appears to think about it, then stands upright, though relaxed. His breathing becomes deeper and fuller and a soft smile replaces his nervous laugh. The twitch on his mouth vanishes into that gentle smile.)
Very good. Take the stance of a person who knows the customer sought this out, is selling themselves on this solution and just needs to convince you to trade it for their money. They appear eager to do so. How do you feel? Please describe this state.
(Volunteer: “Let’s see. It’s friendly. Nobody’s trying to talk anyone into anything. It feels collaborative. Both of us agree on what to do, so we’re just working out how to do it. We’re smiling like at least casual friends, happy that this is working out so well.)
Excellent. Now imagine that you are there. That’s what’s happening. Imagine that now.
(Turning to group, speaking toward them, though aware he would be hearing and internalizing this instruction: “You don’t HAVE TO use your imagination if that’s less pleasurable for you—you can instead use an As-If frame—literally act ‘as if’ this other state was your current state RIGHT NOW. Use your physiology the same way you would if you were doing it in your imagination:” Then I look back at him)
See yourself there, associated. That is, look through your eyes at your customer, notice how you’re breathing in that moment…feel that friendly connection and rapport between you. You agree on what to do…you’re just now together working on HOW to do that. Right? How does your body feel in that moment, now that you’re enjoying this collaborative connection with your customer? Do you notice how you feel caring and enthusiasm now? This time, don’t answer out loud, JUST FEEL IT NOW!
(I turn to the group and ask, “Who didn’t notice the very obvious shift in his physiology? Anyone? Say something if you didn’t see it. We can step through it to notice the distinctions because I want you to get this. Does he look the same way as when he described that feeling earlier, where he was afraid of being rejected?)
I then turn back to Mario. “Do you feel satisfied that you are in the state you preferred? I mean, I personally like a balance between the two extremes. On one hand we have fear of rejection…the other, such massive confidence that we nearly bowl the customer over. For many of us, that can feel like a high-pressure sale. I like how you identified your desire state—collaboration, where they already want you to sell them what they know you can offer. You took yourself there, which is this, a more desirable state for a sales situation, I imagine.
(I then have him repeat moving himself between these two states with deliberation, saying we already had accomplished his goal, now “we are working on the speed! How FAST can you get there? Next, I invite the other attendees to ask questions of both of us, and they do. Many want to verify what his internal experience of each state had been. They all realized he wasn’t merely pretending—his physiology shifts were striking. Finally, I have the attendees split into groups of two—one the shiftee, one the operator, who doubles as the chronicler who documents the physiological differences they observe. I explain, “This is just like what you just observed, but you’re going to do it for one another in pairs. It doesn’t matter which of you goes first, but you both get a turn. If you don’t want to use Imagination or As-If Frame, just choose another from the list on the whiteboard. If for instance you want to develop skill shifting into a state that isn’t as familiar to you, but you know someone for whom it is, MODEL that person. Do what they do, breathe as they do, stand as they do, and so forth. Remember that there is always more than one way to accomplish something in NLP, so any of the methods on the board will be fine. If you have any difficulty, ask your partner first, then if you want more help, raise your hand. But first—ONE BIG THING… Who remembers after our volunteer identified the state he doesn’t like experiencing, the first one? Did you notice a question I asked him BEFORE we looked at the new desired state? Think for a moment, it wasn’t terribly important to shifting states… I interrupted myself, saying, ‘wait a minute, do you sell a good product? Would YOU buy it?’ Who knows why I asked that? And remember, this entire exercise is not about the product. I ASSUME he at least thinks it’s a good product, but that doesn’t really matter for what we’re working on. Anyone? It created a Break State, right. It interrupted his present state toward a mindset that was more neutral, having nothing to do with his emerging confidence or his fading fear of rejection. But it shakes off the old submodalities so he can focus on the new state.
Now it’s your turn. Pair up and decide who goes first. Let’s begin!
Once each partner had gotten a chance to experience the conscious decision to shift into a new, more preferred state, I dropped in that “It’s outside the scope of what we’re doing today, but you could use a swish pattern to manage this process for you automatically…just sayin’…
After the exercise, we did another Q and A to ensure that everyone was happy with their experience and felt empowered knowing they could NOW DO THIS at will.
“In closing,” I then say, I have used this for years in both my personal and professional life. I heard some of your examples coming from either, and since this is all about your internal states, it applies universally. Let me offer another question, and invite your unconscious to play with this… Whether you used this personally or professionally here, can you now see how you could also use it with the other? For our first volunteer, for instance, choosing to use this with sales situations…I’m wondering if he has begun to notice yet where he can also use this in his personal life…?
“What about YOU…?”
Copyright © 2013 Chris Gingolph